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Here is Matthew, minding his business; a Christian comes over to him and asks, “If we are the enemy of the state and it is illegal to be a Christian, do we have to pay taxes?” A good question, indeed. Matthew recalls the time when Jesus said to give to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s. Matthew said, “I better write this down. Then another Christian came up to Matthew and asked, “How many times do I have to forgive my unruly son?” Matthew recalled when Jesus said seventy times a day! Matthew said, “I better write this down.” Then someone else came to Mathew and asked, “How can you tell the difference between a person who is deeply sincere and a fraud?” Matthew recalled that Jesus said, “By their fruits, you shall know them.” He added, “I better write this down.” So, the Gospels are really answers to the questions that early Christians had. Most importantly, one answer in the Gospels is “Love one another as I love you.” The question of the early church was how are we going to make an impact on the Roman Empire? How is a small band of Christians going to make a difference in the world? Answer: Love. Love is very powerful.
Jeanne Jordan was forty-seven years old. She brought a blind, elderly woman to live with her so she could be taken care of. That was no small task. The elderly woman will demand a lot of time. But Jeanne did not just take care of her with three squares and a cot. What made this woman’s care so noticeable was that she loved the blind woman the way she felt that God loved her. Someone noticed and wanted to join her. Then there were two. Someone noticed the two of them caring for others and they formed a small community dedicated to helping the sick. Today, the Little Sisters of the Poor are in thirty countries. They have imitated the love of their foundress a million times over. Love inspires others. That is how love can make a difference in the world.
I met a Scripture scholar for the first time in my life. The first thing I noticed is that his pants didn’t fit. The bottom cuffs were halfway up his calf. I thought, “Who is this guy?” He sat in front of the class in a lecture hall and opened the New Testament and said, “This is a beautiful phrase: “Full of grace.” ‘It is a perfect passive participle.’” He then asked us, “How do you translate a perfect passive participle?” None of us answered, as we looked down at our shoes during the long silent pause. Then the scholar broke the silence and said, “Exactly, the reason why you cannot translate a perfect passive participle in English is because it does not exist in English, but it does in Greek.” He went on to explain the depth and beauty of that phrase. The next thing I know, I am signing up for a New Testament Greek class. I have my pockets full of Greek vocabulary flashcards. Every time I have to wait in line, at the grocery store, because someone has a pile of expired coupons, I take out the flashcards. Who does this kind of thing? I tell you who. Someone who is focused, who believes, who has a vision. Someone gave me that vision because he loved Scripture.
I used to hate going to school. I cried every day when I was in kindergarten. My mother would say on a school day, “This is not going to be pretty,” and she would drag me to school. I am now fifty-seven years old, and I am still in school getting my doctorate. How does this happen? If I ever looked into a crystal ball when I was in kindergarten and saw that I was still going to school at fifty-seven, I would have despaired. How is it possible? Someone inspired me to love scripture.
Here is the faith lesson. How are we Christians going to make an impact? How do we make a difference in this world? Love. Love inspires others.Back to All Homilies